The worst drought on record in the UK is now threatening wildlife. Many once common species have had massive population declines and could disappear all together if action is not taken immediately.
News Source: The Guardian.
Tadpoles this spring will be facing more than the usual predatory threats of fish, birds and children with jam jars. Amid the worst drought in 30 years “a wildlife tragedy” is looming that could inflict a heavy toll on some of England’s best-loved species.
As well as the risk of tadpoles of frogs, toads and rare species such as the great crested newt, dying if ponds dry out, pressure is growing on water voles and wading birds, and fish are already dying in numbers as habitats dry out, the Environment Agency warns.
Agency staff have been removing fish from some ponds and rivers and placing them elsewhere, but this action is not feasible at every affected spot.
Some once-common bird species, such as lapwings and curlews, whose populations have declined rapidly in recent years, could vanish altogether from smaller breeding sites, experts warn.
Helen Perkins, of The Wildlife Trusts, said: “A wildlife tragedy is unfolding in parts of the country. After such a long period of low rainfall, some species may not recover and could be lost from some rivers and wetlands if we don’t act now.”
Some areas of the country have suffered their driest 18 months since records began, and almost all of the east and south-east of England is now officially in a state of drought.
At least seven water companies plan restrictions such as hosepipe bans, to come into force next month, and it is thought the drought could be felt as far north as Yorkshire and as far west as Wiltshire later in the spring. Water companies are looking at ways to share water, but transporting water over long distances is extremely difficult and costly.
Only an extended period of much higher rainfall levels than normal could prevent a serious drought now, and the forecast is for a continuing dry spell.
The soil is so dry in many parts of England that rainfall a fifth higher than normal would be needed to restore it. Many reservoirs are only half full after two dry winters. And rainfall from now on is less likely to recharge soils because more of the water will be lost to vegetation and less will stay in the ground.
Caroline Spelman, the environment secretary, has called on households to save water. She said “The recent drought summit I held at my department highlighted the threats of a dry winter to various parts of the country, and it’s likely that more areas will follow Anglia into drought unless there is significant rainfall over the next few months.
“We can all help reduce the effects of drought by being smarter about how we use water. Taking action now to reduce how much water we use will help us all in the future.”
What do you think?
Do we need to start conserving water as the effects of climate change continue to threaten water supplies?
Will water become the new oil?